From Red Cross most read Frenchman in the world. The inspiring story of Marc Levy
The French are always saying this word. But they're NOT talking about money!

Les Gens are the secret to a long life + faire d'une pierre deux coups

Old port and fishing boats or pointus in La Ciotat France on the Mediterranean Sea

"To interest oneself in a lot of things, to be surrounded by people who we love--that's the secret to my longevity." -French actress Michèle Morgan. Listen to her words in French and see the translation, below. Picture taken in La Ciotat, where I bumped right into a reader of this word journal. Read Wendy's reaction below.


    : people

les jeunes gens = young people
les gens du monde = society people
les gens du voyage = travelling people ("gypsies" do not miss my Mom's story


Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence

S'intéresser à beaucoup de choses, être entourée de gens que l'on aime est le secret de ma longévité.

--Michèle Morgan. See her in the classic wartime film Passage to Marseille on Blu-ray or Amazon Video

Passage to marseille michele morgan

Passage to Marseille and many classic French films are available on Blu-ray or Amazon Video, click here


  by Kristi Espinasse

My New Years resolution for 2018 was the same goal as last year: to think positively. What a disaster that turned out to be. Almost as soon as I set the intention, it was as though the universe clapped its hands and began rubbing them together greedily

I am a positive enough person. It's those stray negative thoughts peppering my day--and the occasional barrage of doubtful thinking--that I was aiming to obliterate (perhaps that is where I go wrong--this tout ou rien approach to things?). 

Ouf! It turns out positive thinking is not essential to good health. According to psychologist and author Susan Pinker you could be a very grumpy person and still live a long (and grumpy) life. More than eating well or exercise, it is social integration that leads to longevity. Les interactions en face-à-face are key to health and happiness.  This could be anything from saying bonjour to the acknowledging the bus driver or waving (however awkwardly) your neighbor. Each time we connect with somebody, however little that connection, we get (and give) good vibes. Good vibes = a vibrant life.

The village effect
       Susan Pinker's book is available here.

"Faire d'une pierre deux coups"

To kill two birds with one stone is a terrible (and terribly useful) expression. It sounds so much better in French where there's no mention of the poor birds: faire d'une pierre deux coups.

It means to complete two things with only one action. Don't you love such éfficacité? Walking is a neat example. It is an activity where you can clear your mind, strengthen your muscles, and come face to face with humanity. It was the first two benefits that got me out initially, but, lately it is the social interaction that is keeping me in stride with life. The most unusual things can happen while out on a walk. Last fall a homeless man kissed me (an innocent "bise"). That's another story, we're getting off track!

I have a few other examples to share with you about some heart-lifting incidents while out on walk, but we'll skip ahead to Wednesday's chance encounter. Wendy heard about La Ciotat from my blog and decided to discover the old port--having traveled here from Cotignac (where she and her husband, Ken, are visiting from Canada). At the moment she and Ken pulled into the public parking lot and got out of their car, I was speedwalking right past them, oblivious to the synchronistic moment. That's when I heard a soft voice... "Kristi?"

We stopped to have a coffee together in the old town, before Wendy and Ken accompanied me part of the way home. For the last part of my walk, I mused about how different each and every day is when you step out of your routine--and when you don't rush home for whatever may seem pressing.

Post Note: In regards to positive wasn't such a désastre after all. I just went about it in a backward way. First, step out. The positive thoughts will follow.


tout ou rien = all or nothing
ouf! = whew! phew!
la bise = kiss
faire la bise = to greet somebody with a kiss on each cheek

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Sky blue La Ciotat T-shirt with fleur de lys. Click here.

Protect your skin when you walk: La Roche-Posay repair face moisturizer with spf 30. Click here to order.

The Bonjour Effect: The Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed. Click to order.

Looking for a host or hostess gift? French gourmet sea salt gift set, for a taste of France

Kristi Ken Wendy Emmaus bookstore Cafe de l Horloge

Kristi, Ken, and Wendy. After coffee, we stopped into the tiny bookstore beside Le Café de L'Horloge. I believe it benefits Emmaüs charity (see this colorful bande-dessinée for the story behind Emmaüs). In the little boutique there is a "tirelire" (piggy bank) honor system where you put a few coins in for each book you select. Photo by Wendy, as you can see!

Wendy and Ken
Wendy is a retired social worker, and Ken is passionate about WWI history. He is soon to begin a blog on the topic. Now read Wendy's account of our serendipitous meeting:

Hi Kristi:

I want to thank you again for giving us some of your time yesterday. I am still feeling stunned at us bumping into you in that parking lot but basking in the glow of our chance meeting. As I looked back over the morning and the drive down from Cotignac to La Ciotat, I wonder at the purpose of the few traffic delays we had-one on the road where we had to pull over for 2 big transport trucks hauling enormous steel arcs and then traffic jams in La Ciotat. They all contributed to the perfect timing of our meeting.

When I gazed across the parking lot yesterday to see if you might know the parking lot rules, first I saw a lady with blond hair and then as you came closer, I wondered if it was you and then I thought, well let's try calling your name and if I am wrong, no big deal. When your face lit up, I was flabbergasted. What are the chances of this serendipitous event? I am still feeling so delighted. I have been following your blog for about 4 years and must say I look forward to it every time it comes in. I would like to mention that how you write really reflects the special person you are in real life.

It likely would be helpful for you to know a bit more about us. As you heard from Ken the deal was a month in Provence before we drove north in 2014 to visit all those military cemeteries of the fallen from the names on the Cenotaph in his home town of Cobalt in Ontario. He has been working on this research for several years a and it has been a great retirement project for him.

How did we end up in Provence? Well my friend from Ottawa and her husband (he was born in France) had been coming to Carces near Cotignac for the month of March for 20 years. They no longer come but she has given me info about the area. When I started researching possible villages, the internet indicated there is some English spoken in Cotignac due to the number of ex-pats. We only speak a little French so it seems like a good choice. And here we are-this is our 4th year of escaping some of our nasty Canadian winter by spending it in Cotignac. We have found a delightful apartment to rent with a good property manager and feel quite at home here.



Kristi and Wendy
Kristi and Wendy outside Lecture Ephémère, the charity bookshop attached to Café de L'Horloge. 

Thank you very much, Wendy! Adding to the impossibility of our meeting, were the number of times that morning that I delayed going out for my walk. Finally making it out, I considered shortening my itinerary that day. I'm so glad I didn't! It just goes to show what good things happen when we go the extra mile.  

Ken and Wendy

Tumbling euphorbia rosemary and a parasol pine tree above a wall of graffiti

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Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

On our first day back in France, and after an unexpectedly difficult 40-plus hour journey from Australia, we woke early (jet-lag). My son and I waited until the bakery would be open and stepped out our front door nearly into the path of an elderly gentleman walking with a cane whom we hadn't met before. It had snowed over night and the magical effect was softening the disappointment of long hours and multiple delays in various airports around the world, plus I can never resist the opportunity to talk, so talk we did. Briefly - about the snow, the fact that he used to love it as we clearly were, and then with a smile he gave us permission to walk on with a cheery 'Bonne journée les enfants". I myself have a nearly 21 year old, but was not in the least bit disappointed in his choice of salutation. To the contrary! Every morning thereafter I looked out for him; not because I wanted to pry, but because I had cherished the brief exchange. I think that this village effect is one of the predominant reasons that I love our French life.


Bonjour :-) This made me smile.
Reminds me of when I spent time with John de Martini. He studied and tested out positive thinking over some years and discovered it always went up and down. It was impossible to stay positive all the time...
He even had a chance to meet Norman Vincent Peale who wrote the power of positive thinking. He even confessed that he was deeply depressed while writing the book! Ha the irony! Then yesterday I watched the ted talk - living a fulfilling/happy life. A Harvard study proved that while young people seek fame and wealth, the wise people realise it is people and connections that not only makes us happier but healthier!

Thank you for your writing. I find it incredibly humble and real. And yes I will be happy to donate something and encourage others to do the same. Even if we all did 1 Euro that makes a difference. I also discovered the great pleasure in giving, not to mention that what you give always returns to you tenfold. At least that‘s my experience.

Happy weekend to you :-)

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

This story made me smile too! I love chance meetings and it was just meant to be that you all would bump into each other! I love it! I love your photo of the little fishing boats too. Thanks so much for your blog and I just ordered "The Bonjour Effect".... sounds like a fun book!

Have a great weekend! I'm headed up to DC to visit with Tara this weekend!


A lovely story!!!


Krisit- always love your posts. But I was especially intrigued by this one featuring "les Canadiens" Wendy and Ken. We are also Canadians, who have a house in Provence, and are always looking for people to connect with. Is there any way that you could connect us? Or, if Wendy and Ken see this, my email address is [email protected] I am heading over to Provence in early April, as I am retiring in a few weeks and so have decided to treat myself to time there.


Wonderful story... I love serendipitous encounters and believe they might even happen more often if we stay open to the possibility. Thank you for the mantra "Step Out," too. Bonne journée, Kristin.

Mary-Jo Johnston

Your post today moved me to write. I have always believed that walking is good on so many levels. The two stories remind me that you just never know what the day might bring if you remain open to the possibilities. Oh and I know Cobalt as I am from Timmins. Wishing everyone a day filled with wonderful connections.


Hi Kristi:
Thank you for this. I've tried to cultivate what Martin Seligman in his book "Learned Optimism," calls a "positive explanatory style." What this means is that one attempts to explain events to oneself optimistically (I'd say "realistically"). To paraphrase Wikipedia on this: The optimist's or positive thinker's outlook on a negative event can be summarized as: "1) What happened was an unlucky situation that might have happened to anyone. I was not personally singled out by fate or the gods. 2) It was really just a setback, not permanent. I can get around or past it. 3) It applies to only this situation or set of events, It does not mean I am a failure as a whole and does not necessarily extend into other areas of my life." People with a positive explanatory style allow positive events such as you describe above, brighten their whole lives (as you have done) not just in the area they occurred.
Wishing you well for the new year.


Make sure you share Ken's blog address when he gets it started.


Kristin Espinasse

Hi, Clay. I will be sure to share it. 

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Paul. I enjoyed learning about Positive Explanatory Style. 

Linda D.

I adore serendipitous meetings! What a delightful story. I so enjoy going 'walkabout' (as my Australian friends say) in your pocket as you move through Life. As for anxiety, I think most of us have weak spots where we feel vulnerable. I know I tend to take for granted the things I find easy and feel shame about the things that frighten me UNTIL I talk with that larger social circle to which the book refers. It is those connections that have convinced me that we each come into the world with gifts and challenges. When we connect, I truly believe we are stronger together. In any case, thanks for letting us ride along with you as we learn French. I look forward to every post!

Roseann Milano

Der Kristi- Just hearing that there is a public parking in La Ciotat makes it much more likely that I will rent a car after my trip down the Rhone to Nice. The trip ends in Nice on November 13 and if I don't get cold feet I'll rent a car and make a visit to you! I just need the courage to drive in France which I have never done before.


Our dear Kristi,
All your stories are wonderful(always!)but today's post especially wraps itself around my heart!And reassures me(once again)that NOTHING happens by chance;it is all planned for us.
Our daily devotional,"God Calling" today told us to pass on every kind word and blessing we have been given,and (also once again) you,dear Kristi,have shared exactly that.You turned around and embraced new friends,such dear people,sharing good will with each other .
What a pleasure and joy to know that these positive,happy instances do exist and are just wait for us to discover them.
Natalia. xo

Marilyn Murphy

We are two retired people who live in White Rock, B.C. I am turning 80 this year and one of my dreams is to go a stay in the Provence area for a month or two. I would love to hear fron you what options we might have re: accomodatiobs. We are both very active so walkibg is very important to us. We both a little French.
Thank you in advance,
Marilyn Murphy

Jens from Copenhagen

Maybe Ken would be interested in our son, Rohan's, WW I site:



♥ this chance meeting ♥

Cynthia Lewis

To think: a few seconds one way or another and this chance meeting between you, Kristi, and Wendy and Ken would not have happened. It gives meaning to serendipity!

Also, I am delighted to have the added treat of a "memoire" written by Jules. My thanks to you both and to Wendy for her lovely letter.

Best wishes for all,

Kristin Espinasse

Hi, Jens. I did tell Ken about Rohans site. Thanks for sharing the link.


Such encounters always reassure me that life is exactly what it should be. Thank you for sharing such a happy moment for all of you.


I love chance meetings. They make me feel alive! I loved your recounting of your time with Wendy and Ken. I get lazy sometimes and decide I am just happy to stay at home, when opportunities are offered to me to go out. But, when I do decide to 'go and do,' I find so much energy given to me by my friends and their friends - it's hard to understand why I even considered staying at home was a better option. People need people, even strangers who often have something special to give us, even if it is just a nice smile!


Kristi (and Wendy), what a marvelous serendipitous encounter you have enjoyed! It's always a pleasure to read about other followers of French-Word-a-Day who are lucky to meet Kristi and Jean-Marc in person. I have been reminding myself to slow down, to take my time instead of rushing about my day, ticking off items on my 'to do' list. This story confirms that magic lurks right there, behind that corner that we often choose not to turn in favour of a different, less interesting shortcut.

P.S. I agree with you about the awful 'two birds with one stone' expression. I have replaced it with 'Plant two trees with one seed.' :)

Ken Curtis

Serendipitous encounters...? Years ago I was sitting over a cup of coffee with my brothers British wife in Oregon before catching a flight for Los Angeles. Our conversation had included a lenghty discussion about one of her fellow Brits, Sir Richard Branson. I have always admired the man and told my sister inlaw that I would love to meet the man someday. My flight intinerary had me flying first to Phoenix Arizona where I would catch another flight on Southwest Airlines to LAX in Los Angeles. When I arrived at the gate for the LA flight and stepped up to the counter to check in I stepped next to a man that was already checking in for the flight. As I casually glanced over at him I immediately realized that it was Richard Branson. He returned my gaze and evidently saw the look of amazement on my face and smiled and simply said - "Yes, it's me". We boarded the flight and in doing so I was able to have a short conversation with him. When I found my seat we parted ways and he sat in the row behind me with a young female assistant that was on the flight with him. For the rest of the flight I thought about what an amazing encounter it had been and wondered if I could think of others that I would love to have a conversation with in the future. These serendipitous encounters leave you with a sense of awe at just how magical the universe is...

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